Women in Humanism/Atheism/Skepticism

Rebecca Watson of Skepchick has been doing great work since her turn as one of the most intriguing speakers at our April conference. This unfortunately well-justified rant about the lack of female speakers at TAM6 (James Randi’s “The Amazing Meeting” conferences are among the biggest drawing events in the Humanist/atheist world) really caught my eye.

I don’t mean to be the pot assisting another cooking vessel in calling the kettle black: male speakers outnumbered female speakers at The New Humanism as well, albeit not by the ratio Rebecca is rightly bemoaning. But I really agree this is one of the next big issues our community needs to address. Surely, prominently featuring the work of more female Humanist/skeptic leaders is one important way for us to live up to Humanist ideals.

What else do we need to do? How can the Humanist/nontheist community most effectively cultivate female leadership and participation? Do we have to look at different types of programs? Different types of language?
My friend Susan Marine, director of the Harvard College Women’s Center, has always said she’d be happy to help if we ever decided to put on a major (or, to start out, a not-so-major) Harvard event on Women in Humanism/Atheism/Skepticism, perhaps for next year.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. edwyer

    February 8, 2008 @ 10:23 pm


    Actually, you’re wrong. ‘Swoopy’ of Skepticality is a female TAM speaker. I suggest checking the facts first, which isn’t something done in the original rant.

    I suggest that you look at cultivating leadership and participation WITHOUT the bias and try to make it something for all people. To do what is being promoted in terms of just seeing the complaints of one poorly researched knee-jerk opinion and making this a big event seems absurd. More effort for more inclusive attitudes in general, not just one strand would seem to help a greater number.

    Didn’t Rebecca herself do a comment in the Boston Globe about how badly she thought the Humanist Conference went and complained about the ‘church’ attitude? Seems weird that you’re acknowledging her opinions at all after that gaffe.

  2. Sarah Trachtenberg

    November 26, 2008 @ 4:27 pm


    Dear Dr. Epstein,
    I am digging your blog .I just launched a site to promote a book project about atheism I’m working on
    and linked to your site. I’d love it if you could do the same or mention it in a posting. Please check it out and let me know.
    Happy Thanksgiving,

  3. bobhull

    July 11, 2011 @ 4:41 pm


    Not quite sure the response above is appropriate at all to the content of the post…

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